Objective: To determine factors that facilitated or hindered recruitment of general practices into a large New Zealand primary care project that aimed to determine general practice characteristics of immunization coverage.
Methods: The project had a multi-level recruitment strategy requiring recruitment of randomly selected practices before randomly selecting GPs, practice nurses and caregivers of children enrolled at those practices. Detailed quantitative and qualitative recruitment data were recorded on an access database. Post-recruitment, recruiters underwent semi-structured interviews. Analysis was mixed method, with triangulation of descriptive statistics of the number of calls and time course to recruitment and general inductive thematic analysis of qualitative data.
Results: Identifying key decision makers and how individual practice processes work can save significant recruitment time. Factors identified as assisting practice recruitment included using a personal approach from doctor to doctor, getting buy-in from all practice staff, streamlining the research process to minimize disruption to the practice and flexibility to accommodate practices.
Conclusions: The task of recruiting should not be underestimated. Adequate time and resource need to be allocated from the onset. Long periods where practices have no added burdens such as audits, mass vaccination programmes or influenza season are unlikely, therefore there are always considerable challenges in recruiting practices for research. Remaining flexible to individual practice styles and influences and acknowledging the commitment of participants is important.